Among the new laws is the repeal of the Privilege License Tax. The PLT started as a way for municipalities to track businesses that were operating in their areas. Over time, cities across the state created a patchwork of fees varying from $25 to thousands of dollars. The fees varied so widely because in some cases the businesses were charged based on gross receipts. Last year several small grocers testified before legislative committees that their PLT went from $100 to $5,000 or even $40,000 overnight.
The tax had become a major source of revenue for some cities, so they fought the repeal vehemently. Under House Bill 1050 (2014 Omnibus Tax Law Changes), the cities’ PLT power is now limited to their geographical city limits. Lawmakers gave cities one year to prepare for the revenue loss before the repeal was effective. Small businesses welcomed the tax relief.
“Repealing it provides fairness and transparency in the tax system,” said Andy Ellen, president and general counsel of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association. “They were already collecting sales tax and paying property tax. They really felt they were being unfairly singled out for an increased tax burden with no additional services.”
Another law that is now in effect is a measure in last year’s budget requiring that all schools have a panic alarm directly connected to local law enforcement. Each school and school system is now required to coordinate with police on a full emergency response plan in the event of school violence.“We have verified that all schools have either installed panic alarms and emergency response plans or are in the process of doing so,” said Vanessa Jeter, Public Information Officer for the State Board of Education.
The legislature gave the BOE grant money to distribute as needed to schools that may not be able to afford to implement the alarm system requirement. The measure was worked into the budget as more states implemented safety measures in the wake of a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut in December 2012.
Military families also got a boost from the State Board of Education this month. Under the new Military Student Identifier law, the BOE will link up with the worldwide Uniform Education Reporting System. The system is designed to identify students connected with the U.S. military and make sure their frequent moves do not disrupt their primary education.Higher education for veterans in North Carolina was also improved under a law just signed in June by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Starting July first, the 12-month residency requirement is waived for veterans so they pay in-state tuition rates at North Carolina public colleges, community colleges and universities. It requires that they served at least 90 days.
“Veterans make great additions to our talent pool,” said UNC President Tom Ross when the bill was signed. “It will attract them, enhance their education and keep them in North Carolina.”
Moped drivers should particularly take notice of the July 1 laws, because among them are new requirements that mopeds be registered with the DMV and carry a minimum level of insurance.
For details and a list of the North Carolina laws that took effect July 1, click here.